It’s Crucial To Scout Talent Early
Signing a client is an easy task, but delivering the expectations, which will lead to the eventual success of the association, is the hardest bit
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When I started Cornerstone Sport and Entertainment in 2008, my vision was simple that I have to grow the business of sports. Before venturing into this domain, I gained 10 years of working experience in the field of business development and client servicing with some of the established companies like G. S. Entertainment, PDM and Globosport.
The initial days were terrifying and challenging. Thanks to Yuvraj Singh and Sushmita Sen, I founded Cornerstone. Of course, my father Arun Sajdeh helped me with the initial seed capital, while Binoy Khimji, director, Cornerstone Sport, was also thoroughly supportive.
In the beginning, when the established sports marketing firms used to focus on bigger series/TV ownership rights, etc., we targeted on the “low-hanging fruits”. My business thrives on pure relationships more than anything else. We pride ourselves in the consistent and honest hard work put in over the decades. And that is the reason stalwart cricketers like Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, and others trust us. And we will respect, appreciate and do our best to return the favour.
As an entrepreneur, my biggest learning is to do a business in a straight forward, honest and upfront manner, regardless of the repercussions.
It is crucial to scout talent early. It gives us flexibility in moulding and understand them better. Also, it gives us time to deliver the best. Signing a client is an easy task, but delivering the expectations, which will lead to the eventual success of the association, is the hardest bit. For an athlete/actor to become a successful brand by simply performing in their respective field of work is not enough. There needs to be a 360 degree commitment in terms of PR/image building, marketing and active social media engagement as a direct connect to his/her fan base to begin with.
My relationship with Virat Kohli goes all the way back to the beginning of his carrier. I was actually tracking Virat when he was playing in an emerging player’s tournament in Australia. I used to watch him in Under-19 World Cup semi-finals, when he was captaining the team. He didn’t really make a lot of runs in that game, but there was a spark in him, the way he was marshalling his team and the way they were responding to him. He had a leadership quality, a passion in his eyes, and then Yuvraj Singh introduces me to him. I signed him when he also joined the Indian Team.
Today, at 27, Virat Kohli is right up there. After Sachin Tendulkar, Virat has given not just India but the rest of the world someone to look up to, someone to be inspired from and maybe even aspire to be. His untiring hard work, fitness, commitment and dedication stand out every single day — attributes that most brands would find hard to ignore.
Over the time, we have developed brands and businesses that are relevant with Virat’s personality. With him, we have looked at a healthy mix of categories; fashion, licensing and merchandising, sporting ventures to name a few. Wrogn is quirky fashion; Chisel is about holistic fitness. Staying relevant is the key; the fans relate better with the brands as they are a seamless reflection of Virat himself.
Till date, we continue to be an independent organisation with the ability and freedom to make our own choices.
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